THE Palace said Friday it will not hide away street children during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, saying that the money given to the homeless was part of the administration’s modified conditional cash transfer program.
“Again, they will not be hidden from view. We have already explained that the modified CCT is a program already being done by the DSWD, and the help given is not limited to only when there is a big event,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, during a press briefing in Malacañang.
“However, we have seen this opportunity to start helping them so they could have a transition from the streets into dignified living quarters,” Valte added, without elaborating.
The administration drew flak in January when it hid away street children at a resort during the Pope’s visit, but Valte said they were at a workshop, and that these kinds of activities continued even after the papal visit.
“Maybe the report was only made during the time when there was a big event. But the truth is the DSWD has been doing this for years,” Valte added.
A Catholic bishop on Thursday slammed what he described as a government plan to hide the homeless during the APEC summit by giving them money to rent a temporary home from Nov. 15 to 20.
In a radio interview, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo confirmed the Department of Social Welfare and Development was distributing P4,000 each to homeless people so they could live elsewhere and be hidden from view during the summit.
Pabillo said it was insensitive of the government to hide away the poor for the benefit of foreign visitors.
“Their solution is temporary. They want to show the visitors that there are no poor people, but why can’t we find a permanent solution for our poor people? One that doesn’t require us to hide them every time there are visitors?” he said in an interview on the Church-owned Radio Veritas.
The bishop also expressed dismay at the expense—put at P7.9 billion—of hosting the Apec meetings here.
“It is okay if they are spending money for the benefit of the people. If the government is spending money for infrastructure and cleaning the roads just to boast to our visitors, this is such a waste of money,” Pabillo added.
Valte said the Palace was still collating data on the budget for hosting the APEC, and said the budget report would be released after the summit, when all the expenses have been reported.
In January, about 500 street children, along with their families, were sent to a resort in Nasugbu, Batangas during the five-day visit of Pope Francis in the country.
Some 10 busloads of street dwellers arrived at the Chateau Royale Resort in Nasugbu, Batangas, on the morning of Jan. 14.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) booked 70 rooms for the families of less fortunate children from the cities of Pasay, Manila and Parañaque for a “family camp.”
Each room usually costs P6,300 per night but the DSWD got the rooms for P4,000 each, according to a report from radio dzMM.
Some 100 DSWD staff also stayed in the resort to look after the families and to facilitate activities.
The families checked out of the resort on Jan. 19, the last day of Pope Francis in the country.
In an interview with Time Magazine, DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman admitted that the homeless families were sent away so that they would “not be vulnerable to the influx of people coming to witness the Pope.”
The said family camp in Nasugbu, Batangas, was part of the DSWD’s Modified Conditional Cash Transfer program, she said.
Soliman added that the families “could be seen as not having a positive influence in the crowd.”
She insisted, however, that they did not hide street dwellers from Pope Francis.